Short Takes


Object Lesson

Caltech makes 3-D printing available to anyone with a campus ID card through its TechLab—located on the first floor of Sherman Fairchild Library—which provides hands-on access to a host of technologies related to prototyping and modeling. To help community members turn ideas into objects, workstations throughout the library are equipped with SolidWorks, a software program used to make and manipulate 3-D images for printing. Shown here is a model printed by Ray Sun (BS ’20), inspired by Perception, a sculpture created by Caltech trustee Ronald Linde (MS ’62, PhD ’64) to grace the space outside the Ronald and Maxine Linde Center for Global Environmental Science. (Model design by digital design repository Thingiverse.)

Did You Know?

Caltech is a patent-producing powerhouse. Compared with MIT, Caltech is granted twice as many patents per researcher, and three times as many as Stanford. Over the past 22 years, technologies created by Caltech researchers have formed the basis of 238 new companies.

To help inspire the next generation of Institute innovators, Caltech held its inaugural Innovation Week last November, in which a dozen alumni
entrepreneurs and investors shared their experiences. The keynote speaker was former astronaut Garrett Reisman (MS ’92, PhD ’97). After receiving a degree in mechanical engineering at Caltech, Reisman joined NASA as a mission specialist and logged a total of three months in space on two separate missions. He then transferred to the public sector, where he currently serves as SpaceX’s director of crew operations.

“The whole lifeblood of [SpaceX] is innovation and disruption,” he told the student audience. “The status quo has got to be the enemy. If it’s not—if the status quo is a nice comfortable friend—then you’re not going to have an innovative culture in your organization.”


Bill Gates Visits Caltech

“Touring the campus, I was struck by what an amazing time it is to be a student at an institution like Caltech. In every field—from engineering and biology to chemistry and computer science—I learned about phenomenal research underway to improve our health, find new energy sources, and make the world a better place.” 

- Bill Gates, writing on his blog about his November 30, 2016, visit to Caltech.


Reinforcing the Caltech-Huntington Connection

Barely a mile apart, Caltech and The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens have long served as twin anchors of Pasadena’s intellectual and cultural life.

The Caltech-Huntington Humanities Collaborations brings scholars together across the two institutions for a series of two-year multidisciplinary research modules.  “Violence and Order Past and Present,” the theme chosen for the 2016-18 module, looks at the role of violence in political and social order.

For the module, coordinated by English professor Jennifer Jahner and history professor Warren Brown, Caltech shares a postdoc (Leah Klement, pictured) and two senior research fellows with The Huntington. Workshops and lectures have brought an array of scholars to Pasadena, including Bruce Hoffman, from Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, who spoke on terrorism and counterinsurgency.

For Jahner, the project is an extension of the interdisciplinary work that is the norm in the humanities and social sciences division. “Warren and I are used to talking across our disciplinary divides,” she says, “and so basically we’ve widened the scope so we can get more people involved in the conversation. It’s great to collaborate with art historians, political scientists, and people working on contemporary terrorism.”


On Location

Photo: HBO

Photo: HBO

In February, geography was temporarily upended as the cast and crew of the Emmy Award–winning HBO series Silicon Valley visited Caltech to film an episode for the show’s fourth season (which kicked off April 23, 2017).

As co-executive producer Jim Kleverweis noted, “The main challenge of shooting on a college campus is not to interrupt classes and to be respectful of the professors, staff, and their workspaces.”

For the one-day shoot, trucks began arriving before dawn and by the time students were up and about, Beckman Lawn had been transformed into a base camp with catering trucks and tents; extras were being schooled on their roles; and series regulars Thomas Middleditch, Josh Brener, Martin Starr, Kumail Nanjiani, and Zach Woods were prepping for the first scene of the day.